By Kim Wrona
11/18/16 – DeKalb, IL | The DIII Huskies played in the Robert Morris University Showcase from November 11-13 at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. The Huskies dropped their first two games, but picked up a victory against RMU Black to end the tournament.
The Huskies played Northwestern University on Friday to begin the Showcase. The Wildcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead 6:25 into the contest and then added a goal early in the second period to go up by a score of 2-0.
Freshman forward Colton Schaffter got NIU on the board with a late tally in the middle frame with his seventh goal of the season.
Northwestern added two more goals in the third period to make the score 4-1 and the Wildcats were able to hang on for the victory.
Freshman goaltender Carl Lindgren made 31 saves on 35 shots in the tilt. Northwestern outshot NIU by a 35-21 margin. The Huskies went 0-2 on the power play while the Wildcats went 1-5 on the man advantage.
On Saturday morning, the Huskies faced-off against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Panthers got on the board first as they had a bounce go their way as the puck ricocheted off of junior goaltender Jake Tower’s pad and then went over his glove at the 8:10 mark of the first period.
UWM added a goal 2:20 into the second period to put the Panthers up 2-0. At 14:16 of the middle frame, junior forward Danny Behles scored his fifth goal of the season to cut the Huskies’ deficit to one.
The Panthers added four unanswered goals throughout the rest of regulation to give UWM a 6-1 win over the Huskies.
Tower made 50 saves on 56 shots in the contest. UWM outshot NIU 56-27. The Huskies weren’t able to convert on any of their four power plays while the Panthers tallied on their lone man advantage.
“I was really happy with the way we played on Saturday against Milwaukee,” head coach Mark Plantery said. “I thought that we executed really well. I thought we were really good on our face-offs and we had a lot of set plays off face-offs. There are a lot of positives we can take out of that game. The game was closer than the 6-1 score. I’m very pleased with our team play, which we’ve been working on all year.”
The Huskies took on RMU Black on the last day of the Showcase. NIU’s offense got off to a quick start on Sunday and didn’t let up during the game.
Behles scored his sixth goal of the season 3:07 into the contest to give NIU a 1-0 lead. Schaffter extended the Huskies’ lead to 4-0 by completing a hat trick in the first period. Sophomore defenseman Zach Hoffman scored his first goal of the season at the 9:57 mark of the opening frame to put NIU up by a score of 5-0.
The Eagles scored with 3:29 left in the first, but the Huskies restored their lead in the middle frame with Schaffter’s fourth goal of the game.
Ten seconds later, freshman forward Matthew Nge scored to give NIU a six goal lead. Junior forward Trevor Bondarowicz scored at the 4:29 mark of the period to make the score 8-2 in NIU’s favor.
The Eagles added a shorthanded goal just over two minutes after Bondarowicz’s marker, but the Huskies answered back with two goals, including a power play tally, from senior defenseman Damon Lubkeman. The goals were Lubkeman’s first two of the season.
In the third period, Bondarowicz netted his second goal of the game and fourth of the year to extend NIU’s lead to 11-3. Schaffter added his fifth goal of the game less than three minutes later.
Junior forward Brian Kostecka deflected in a puck at the 6:45 mark of the final frame to put NIU up 13-3 with his second goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Mike Neville netted his second goal of the season at the 8:45 mark of the third period.
Schaffter scored his sixth goal of the contest and his 13th of the season with 2:15 left in regulation. Senior forward Ryan Long added two goals in the final minute of the game for his sixth and seventh tallies of the season to give NIU a 17-3 win over RMU Black.
Lindgren played the first 20 minutes of the game and made six saves on seven shots on goal. Freshman goaltender Mike Trybula was in net for the second period and made two saves on four shots on goal. Freshman goaltender Eric Odolski played in the third period and made two saves on two shots.
NIU outshot RMU by a 31-13 margin. The Huskies went 1-3 on the power play and killed off the Eagles’ lone man advantage. The Huskies’ 2016-17 record now stands at 4-11-0-0.
“There were more positives towards the end of the weekend than towards the beginning,” Lindgren said. “We came out sort of flat against Northwestern and then we picked it up against Milwaukee and now we’re winning by a lot [against RMU on Sunday]. I feel like Eric and Mike getting in the net is really good for them. It’s going to help their confidence.”
“We started moving the puck well towards the end of the second game,” Bondarowicz said. “We picked our heads up and communicated well. We made all the passes that we needed to and took our shots.”
The DIII Huskies will now get back to playing games on home ice as they host McKendree University.
“We need to stay out of the stupid stuff,” Lindgren said. “We need all we can fire against McKendree. I feel like we can take a lot of stuff from [Sunday’s] game and improve it, but I feel like we did pretty well. We took some steps to accomplish a lot.”
“I think as we get better as individuals, our team play gets better, too,” Plantery said. “I just want to continue to play well as a team and execute the things we’ve been working on.”
NIU and McKendree will play at 10 p.m. on November 18 and at 8:10 p.m. on November 19 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.